One councilor calls for program to be abolished
Originally reported on October 22, 2012
By Evan Weston SYRACUSE (NCC NEWS) – The Syracuse Common Council agreed to postpone a vote Monday on granting $200,000 in payroll funds to the Syracuse Urban Renewal Agency, signaling a contentious debate on the issue over the next few weeks.
The council spent most of its morning Finance Committee hearing debating the issue, according to committee chair and Councilor-At-Large Kathleen Joy. No consensus was reached, as councilors split over whether or not SURA deserved the funding.
“I can see both sides,”said Majority Whip Patrick Hogan. “As long as the bottom line remains the same, and we know where the money comes from, I understand the operational aspects and I’m not totally against [granting the funds].”
Majority Leader Lance Denno, who has led the opposition to SURA, sharply disagreed, saying, “I do not support it. I believe it would make the council complicit in what is essentially recognized by the state as inappropriate structure.”
Denno is referring to a report from the New York state Authorities Budget office issued last week, which called out SURA for “misuse” of public money. SURA currently pays over 100 employees who actually work for the city.
In fact, SURA employees are now hired before even being confirmed by the agency’s board.
“So [a person]…is on the payroll, and then later on it becomes part of the agenda…and then they vote, while the person has collected paychecks from two pay periods already,” said Hogan.
Denno agreed. “I think the first step is to stop putting people on the SURA payroll,” he said. “And we haven’t done that yet.”
The Common Council is expected to take up this issue again at its next regular meeting in November.